Review: Dazzling production of South Pacific by Splinters Theatre Company

South Pacific presented by Splinters Theatre Company
South Pacific presented by Splinters Theatre Company

Rarely do amateur companies have the members to field a large age-appropriate cast for South Pacific so a production of this classic musical blows across the stage like a refreshing breeze on a paradise island.

Splinters Theatre Company’s members are all under 30, making them the perfect fit for a story of young sailors and nurses despatched thousands of miles away from home to aid the war effort.

With youth comes energy and there’s bags of that in this week’s production at the University Drama Studio in Sheffield this week.

Sailors running across the stage, nurses doing keep-fit exercises and a march in time to music feature among the lively scenes.

But it’s the singing which really raises the bar on other productions of South Pacific I have seen. Every soloist shows real talent and sings their numbers with emotion and conviction.

Becki Stowe shines in her debut with the company as nurse Nellie Forbush, instilling joy in her viewer when she dances around stage as a woman in love or tugging the heart-strings as Nellie wrestles with her feelings of prejudice.

Her opposite number, Davron Hicks, may be the wrong side of 30 but, boy, what a voice he’s got. He commands the stage in his role as plantation owner Emile de Beque in a powerhouse of a performance.

Jill Beckett gives a wonderful characterisation of racketeer Bloody Mary, trying to woo sailors with her trinkets of grass skirts and shrunken heads while bewitching the audience with her magical rendition of the song Bali Hai.

Equally good performances come from divine singer Jamie Cooke, playing Lieut Cable, and Josh Holliday, cast at Luthur Billis, who causes much mirth when he dresses up as a woman for an Independence Day celebration.

This heart-warming show features the cutest kids singing in French and scampering around stage - and all credit to Khaliyah Sultanti, Angel Grant-Bennett, Simone Williams and Joni Spence who are playing the role of Emile’s children at alternative performances.

South Pacific continues its run tonight (Friday) and tomorrow at 7.15pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.15pm.

GAY BOLTON